Since 1979, Bruce Kennedy has leapt from airplanes more than 5,900 times. He opened Skydive Iowa in 1991, turning his love of thrilling free falls and bird's-eye views into a business. He and his team of USPA-licensed instructors teach visitors safety concepts and skydiving techniques before accompanying them into the air. At a height of 3,000 feet, skydivers leap for tandem or solo jumps. Jumpers drift above the earth for up to five minutes before a radio guides them toward a soft landing. Many of Skydive Iowa's instructors specialize in videography and can capture photographs or videos of skydivers for posterity.
It isn’t uncommon for the vastly different worlds of charity fundraising and pole dancing to collide at various local philanthropic functions throughout Iowa. That’s because staff members at Wicked Enchantment Pole Dancing & Fitness Studio continue to prove that pole fitness can benefit their community as well as raise money for organizations such as Children's Miracle Network and Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. They channel this same spirit of support during their group and private classes back at their ladies-only workout venue.
They restrict their pole-based classes to six people, fostering an intimate and supportive environment for women to master climbs, grips, and twirls. Their curriculum also hones in on the healthy aspect of the art, listing classes that target arms, abs, and cores as well as full-body boot-camp workouts. They teach several levels of pole dancing and corresponding choreography classes, building fluid routines by augmenting maneuvers with transitions and lubricating arm joints with 10W-40.
Mary Mayer's career in Irish dancing started when she took her first lessons in Ireland while staying with her grandmother in the early '70s. She loved it so much that when she returned to Chicago, she—as well as her brother John—began taking lessons at a local Irish-dance school, where they danced with such people as Lord of the Dance creator Michael Flatley. Both Mary and John eventually starting placing at regional and national championships.
In 1980, they founded the Mayer School of Irish Dancing. It began in a basement with only five students—two of who were their younger brother and sister, Paul and Julie Mayer. These two followed in their older siblings' footsteps by placing in championships and even landing roles in Road to Perdition. Paul trained actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and danced with her in the film. Julie also trained many actors and performed alongside Paul Newman and Daniel Craig.
Though John has since retired, Mary continues to teach classes six days a week in Villa Park and Galena. Paul and Julie man two of the school's additional locations, which now span four states. Their students have placed in regional and national championships. Some have even traveled to Ireland to put their skills on display at the All-Ireland Championship and see if any snakes have found their way back yet.
Featuring professional staff members, an impeccably maintained course, and true-rolling greens arranged according to the position of 18 miniature meteor craters, The Ridge offers a golf experience for clubbers both skilled and woefully handicapped. A full round of evasive holes ($25 weekdays, $27 weekends) tantalizes cleek caressers and promises more excitement than a ruptured appendix. A golf-cart rental ($15) and a medium bag of range balls ($5) are included in the package, as well as a caged self-loathing that, according to The Ridge’s policies, can be unleashed upon any golfer who putts an eagle.
Diamond Dreams Baseball and Softball Academy's athletic facilities double as classrooms for players of all ages. A 10,000-square-foot arena houses indoor pitching mounds, technique cages, and throwing tunnels with Iron Mike and curveball pitching machines. An adjoining 2,000-square-foot performance center caters to youth and adult development programs.
Helming these facilities, experienced instructors adhere to a philosophy known as Life-Sport-Connect. As implied by its title, Life-Sport-Connect emphasizes the link between athletics and the real world. As athletes learn how to maintain a positive attitude, work as a team, and douse their coach in sports drink, they develop virtuous characteristics that affect their personal lives.
Classes, workshops, and camps primarily emphasize baseball, softball, and football. Regular baseball tournaments provide game time between local and regional teams, and a chance to show off with home-run derbies and throwing competitions.
Thanks to 20 hard-working snow-making machines, skiers and snowboarders of all levels can zip down nine different runs reaching up to 2,000 feet, and also enjoy night skiing at this western-Iowa resort. Although gravity will pull patrons inexorably toward the bottom of the slopes, two chairlifts return as many as 3,600 snow surfers to the top each hour, where they can take in views of the ski area's 50 acres, test their mettle on trails such as the challenging Double Trouble Chute, or make a snow-sculpted diorama of the entire cast of Happy Days. Afterward, skiers can warm their toes in the newly renovated two-story lodge and replenish their bodies with a drink from the Mountain Cafe & Bar. Guests can also rent skis and snowboards, take lessons, or conquer the slopes on an office chair.